Artist Profile 5

Artist Profile

Vashti Harrison

I decided to do my final artist profile on Vashti Harrison. Harrison is an African American illustrator, author, and filmmaker. She creates digital illustrations for books and other projects. She also develops films that look at her Caribbean heritage and folklore. Her most known works are her illustrations for the book Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o and her own New York Times Bestseller book Little Leaders: Bold Women in History. She is also known for the experimental style of her short films and videos. Her animated short Hair Love has become another well-known work. The short won Best Animated Short Film at the 92nd Academy Awards. Harrison uses Photoshop with a Cintiq tablet and Procreate on her iPad Pro to create her illustrations and a camera for her films and videos. She has been drawing and making art since she was a child. Harrison changes art styles and techniques frequently. However, her art always contains an element of magic and fantasy, a unifying theme for her artwork.


My favorite piece by Harrison is her illustrations for the book Sulwe. The book is about overcoming colorism and teaches children that beauty is both dark and light. Her illustrations do an incredible job bringing Lupita Nyong’o’s story to life. Each page grabbed my attention. I had to pause the video multiple times to take in the little details of her work. There were sparkles and magic brushed onto each drawing, which I immediately recognized as her signature theme. My favorite illustration from the book was the page featuring the sisters, Day and Night. She incorporates mythological themes and black culture to create the sisters. She draws them in a way that gives them the appearance of being hand painted.

Black Girl Magic

This piece is from Harrison’s Black Girl Magic collection of illustrations. It depicts a young woman who has found their first gray hair. I like this piece because it does a beautiful job combining realistic features with cartoonish styles. It also reminded me of my mother getting her first gray hair, which made me laugh (always a bonus in my book). The illustrations she does that show the little things in life you do not normally associate with being beautiful or magical is something I have not seen before.

Kids Lit Art

The third piece I wanted to look at was an illustration from her Kid Lit Art collection. The piece depicts a little girl walking in a forest of some type at sunset. I love so many little details of this piece. From the moon crescents in her eyes, the little friend in her bag, to the sunlight on her curls. The piece tells a fun open-ended story, where her audience can decide what the girl may be doing or where she is traveling to. I thought the realism of the light beams was also well done and added an extra level of detail to the piece as well as the magical/whimsical element that all her pieces are known for.